Operation CLAMPDOWN 5 now running across England to target illegal close season fishing
There are now 324 more reasons not to risk illegally fishing for coarse fish during the close season. That is the current number of Volunteer Bailiffs in England – and they will be keeping watch on their local rivers as Operation CLAMPDOWN 5 swings into action over the next three months.
With even more volunteers being inducted into the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service in coming weeks, this year’s blitz on close season offences will be the most supported to date.
The close season runs from 15th March to 15th June inclusive and sees coarse angling suspended on rivers, streams and some specified canals and stillwaters.
During Operation CLAMPDOWN 5, the volunteers will be reporting any suspicious activity to the Environment Agency – and police if illegal fishing on private waters is spotted.
Offenders face a hefty penalty if convicted as the maximum fine for fishing illegally during the close season is £50,000.
Judy Proctor, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “People who illegally fish waters covered by the statutory close season are cheating the angling community. The majority of anglers, who fish legally, rightly demand that we take action to catch offenders.
“Our enforcement officers, supported by Angling Trust voluntary bailiffs, will be targeting illegal fishing again this year and anyone caught can expect a significant fine. We urge anyone spotting illegal fishing to report it as quickly as possible by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”
Chief Inspector Martin Sims, Head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "I have been personally involved training some of the Volunteer Bailiffs and have really enjoyed getting involved. What they will add is further resilience to the Environment Agency in ensuring people do not break the law, providing eyes and ears along our rivers and streams while they are off limits throughout the coarse close season. I commend all partners for getting this scheme off the ground and look forward to working with the Volunteer Bailiffs.”
Dilip Sarkar MBE, Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager and a retired West Mercia Police officer, said: “This annual multi-agency operation is an important one, providing an ideal opportunity for all partners to work together to protect fish and fisheries. Our volunteers are trained to report incidents and information to a high evidential standard, contributing to the intelligence-led system, and are essential to this process. We are grateful to each and every one.”
There are still plenty of opportunities to wet a line for coarse fish while rivers and streams are off limits. The vast majority of stillwaters and canals will be open and anglers should check their local byelaws ( https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-fishing-byelaws ) for the list of sites included within the statutory close season.
The Voluntary Bailiff Service is currently recruiting more volunteers all over the country. If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Anglers are required to buy a fishing licence in order to fish legally in England, Wales and along the Border Esk in Scotland. All current full licences expire on 31st March, so now is the time to renew your licence.
- The fishing licence now lasts for 12 months from the day it is bought, rather than expiring at the end of March each year. The use of three rods now needs just one licence, rather than two. Junior anglers, up to the age of 17, can apply for a free licence.
- The Environment Agency has launched Get A Fishing Licence to simplify the process of buying a fishing licence.
- Sales of licences for the 2015/16 season raised £21 million.The money was used to restock rivers with 452,220 coarse fish, encourage over 35,000 people to try angling for the first time and bring 2,043 successful prosecutions against crimes like poaching.
- Spring Into Fishing! A series of events are being held throughout spring and summer for people wanting to take up fishing. More information available at Get Fishing and Fishing Info.
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